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Summary

If you have a clever anecdote, an interesting memory, a new way to explain how something works, or an opinion on a social or political issue, then you have an essay in you. Unlike a novel, history book, or scientific publication, essays provide you with the versatility to express all the various facets that make you you. The concise and direct nature of an essay means that you may tap in to your sense of wit, share your individual point of view, persuade others to your perspective, and record a part of your memories for future generations in as many distinct essay forms as you wish. The essay is, above all else, one of the most profoundly personal outlets for writing.

Discover the keys to unlocking your potential in essay writing with Becoming a Great Essayist. These 24 illuminating lectures explore numerous genres or types of essays, challenge you with stimulating writing prompts, and provide insights into how to get to know yourself like never before so that you may write honest, compelling, and great essays. And because essays are so flexible in their style and function, the skills you build writing great essays may be applied to almost all other forms of writing.

While the goal of this course is to provide you with fundamental abilities that will improve your essays, the skills you will learn also provide a foundation to develop any writing project you undertake. This is an unrivalled opportunity to advance your critical and creative thinking skills, enhance your ability to master a strong and persuasive style, and, most importantly, get to know your own inner voice.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2016 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2016 The Great Courses

What members say

Average customer ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cat
  • Hatfield, United Kingdom
  • 13-09-16

Excellent - both delivery & content

I am a writer - albeit untrained bar years of experience - by trade. I am always keen to learn more and see where I can 'cross pollinate ' information. This Great Course was so broad but uniquely informative that not only did I find I could take much with me on my own journey but I found a new appreciation for Essays.
Down to earth, well explained, with great examples, it made both listening and learning an effortless pleasure.
Highly recommended!

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Too much indulgent waffle. Lost interest early.

Just could not warm up to this. lots of words but not much of it seemed to be about actually writing an essay. Gave up on it early. Maybe there's more pertinent teaching later on but I lost the will to find out.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • K. Hanna
  • 26-05-17

Difficult to listen to this author

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Jennifer Cognard-Black?

I have and will continue to order The Great Courses books. Would not try another from Jennifer Cognard-Black.

What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

The author to me seems pretentious and condescending. Her views and thoughts about things outside of writing are quite ignorant and irritating and best left out of this book.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • CB_1975
  • 30-03-17

For person who likes to journal

This book is for someone who writes personal essays, in a journal, or possible wants to write a biography. If this is your focus, it is a good book.

This book will not help with professional writing, grammar, or style.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • S. Mills
  • 23-02-17

Slow

My mind tended to wander quite a bit during the whole book. Good info just not engaging.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Jason
  • 08-08-16

Makes you excited to write more essays

I love the break down of this course. It is not the same five paragraph writing drills, but she walks you through different types, storylines, teaches you how to make the read feel the words.

22 of 31 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Firstsnow
  • 08-04-17

Didn't like this course for several reasons.

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Jennifer Cognard-Black?

Great Courses is generally excellent. However, this course is an anomaly. Didn't like the professor. Specifically, I did not like her sexist bend and utilization of her own works as if they were classics. I did not want to inspect the relationship of her family such as her hatred for curling irons. The good part of the course was minimal discussion of classic pieces Swift's A Modest Proposal. The creative aspect of this course was the focus; I wish there there less lectures about cooking and travel and more about science and global issues.

What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

The repetition of her own works and overly emotional personal history. Not interested.

How could the performance have been better?

Using classic works, this course could have inspected the topic of the essay from perspective which would appeal to male and female listeners.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Becoming a Great Essayist?

I can only recommend 1 or 2 of the lectures out of the entire series.

Any additional comments?

Great Courses has another excellent course on creative writing which I do recommend.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Matthew T. Giobbi
  • 08-06-17

Not Recommended

I found the lecturer to be too affected and dramatic in her speech style. There are instances in which she presents inaccurate, topic-specific information with a tone of authority. I found the basic descriptions of essay styles useful, but little else.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Guillermo
  • 27-04-17

Expected a Cookbook and got a Minecraft Guide

Imagine buying an Italian Cookbook, then when talking about pasta suddenly the author starts spouting about Minecraft, crafting and best strategies, then challenges you to use your new knowledge to craft a Penne Alfredo.

This was my experience with this Course. Expecting writing and formatting tips I got scolded for being racist, sexist and a slaver, even if I don't live in the US. I learned some tips on essays and writing in general, but had to endure lectures about how slavery is bad, then how Aristotle (a guy who defended slavery) had the moral high ground when writing.

It is distracting and certainly not what I expected, you might find some things useful here, but it's just a small fraction of the book, if you want unadultered writing advice from experts, go listen to "Writing Excuses" a Podcast with authors such as Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells and Mary Robinette Kowall.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Dr. Mc.
  • 03-09-16

OK, not great

I disliked the cliches that pervaded the course. She actually used the "outside the box" metaphor. There was some info that was useful in writing and publishing essays, but not nearly enough. Instead there too many summaries of essays, and they were often very old ones. What you could learn from these about writing and publishing essays today was limited.

18 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-04-17

engaging and educational

this series was incredibly educational and surprisingly captivating. the lecturer not only instructs on the elements of writing construction but hones in on great authors, showing why some compositions stand the test of time.

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  • Patrick
  • 27-04-17

50% Good advice for typical english majors

first half was great then got progressively less useful for English major essays. expected somethingelse.